As the Twins have learned, it's not always easy to tell whether Kevin Correia is pitching well or getting rocked. Even he's not sure sometimes.
And there was conflicting evidence all over the field again on Wednesday.
The veteran righthander allowed a season-high 10 hits to the red-hot Royals, put the leadoff hitter on three times and threw 94 pitches in six stressful innings.
The cover-your-eyes result? Um -- a quality start. Weird.
So is this good pitching? Or is Correia merely stomping out fires with the frequency of Smokey the Bear? Or both?
"I don't know, either," Correia said after remaining 7-7 -- he hasn't been below .500 all year -- by taking his sixth no-decision in his last 11 starts. "I think I actually threw the ball pretty well. Every time they put the bat on the ball, whether it be hard or not, it ended up being a hit. But I did a pretty good job of getting out of some jams with the help of the defense."
That he did, and he's right about the defense. Correia himself threw out one Kansas City runner on an athletic play of a chopper to the mound. Another Royal was throwing out by right fielder Chris Herrmann while trying to advance to third, and yet another was caught stealing. The Twins turned a 5-4-3 double play behind him, too.
And three times, the non-strikeout pitcher stranded runners on base by whiffing a hitter for the third out. Quite a Houdini job, particularly for a guy who's had a pretty rough July. He entered the day with a 7.11 ERA for the month, and by holding K.C. to 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, he allowed only two runs.
"He got through it somehow or other. He made enough pitches when he had to," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Gave us a pretty decent chance."
Not that it mattered, the way the Twins are hitting. Minnesota went a fairly amazing 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, and left 11 runners on base.
A couple more notes from a long night at Target Field:
-- More evidence that Jared Burton is back: He faced three hitters in the eighth, and struck out all three. After that hiccup in June, he's now had 12 straight appearances without allowing a run.
-- Herrmann's throw really was remarkable, coming from fairly deep in right field. He easily threw out Eric Hosmer, who had tagged up. Just as when Ryan Doumit is in the outfield, it helps to have a catcher's arm out there. That's 30 outfield assists for the Twins this year; no other MLB team has more than 26.
-- Aaron Hicks' slump, a new one, continues. He was 2-for-his-last-20 when he batted in the eighth inning, having popped up with the bases loaded in the sixth. He singled to extend the inning, but it was a topper that rolled maybe 40 feet. The Twins were optimistic that Hicks, always a slow starter, would show big improvement at the plate once he returned from his hamstring injury, but he's batting only .230 since then, with a .386 slugging average. The ability to draw walks, which he showed early in the season, has faded, too; he walked just six times in July. He's batting .179 since the All-Star break, though his defense remains exceptional.
-- Trevor Plouffe doubled in the eighth inning, his first extra-base hit since the All-Star break. But he was stranded at third when Chris Colabello and Clete Thomas struck out.